Thank you for this thread. Reading this BBC article reminded me of another article I read on this topic, printed in the Los Angeles Sentinel
newspaper, the largest Southern California newspaper that focuses on the African American community. Written by African American Joy Childs, it
details her own traumatic experience in the early 1960s as a child taking swimming lessons. Here is that link:
Briefly, she relates a horrific swimming "lesson" taught by an instructor who was either incompetent, sadistic, or both. I am white, but I remember
feeling anger and disgust while I read her account of the swim instructor's horrific "methods." I remember thinking "Where was this swim
"instructor" 's supervisor? Where was the high school principal?" (Note: Los Angeles High School, founded in the 1800s as the first high school
in Los Angeles, was moved to its present location in the 1930s and has fortunately featured an ethnically diverse student body from the beginning.)
I was so angry about this story, which I read after eating lunch with a friend at an African-American health food restaurant (Simply Wholesome) near
La Brea Blvd, that I started to read it out loud to my friend. Unexpectedly, when I got to the part about the "swim instructor's" sadistic
methods, I started to cry. Now, the article does not state the ethnicity of the swim instructor...but the fact that an incompetent or sadistic swim
teacher was first hired and then left unsupervised with vulnerable children made me feel, not just angry, but also overwhelmed.
The common element between the L.A. Sentinel first-person account and this thread's BBC News story is the question they raise about the dominant
culture's priorities in teaching swimming at all, teaching swimming in a competent way, proper management and infrastructure to insure the
availability of swimming pools with deep ends and, just as important, qualified and properly supervised swim teachers and state-of-the-art swimming
teaching methods. If these key values are not made a reality, then we in North America remain burdened with the problem of White Privilege.
Why White Privilege? When the number of non-swimming African American children approaches a doubling of that of white kids, it's time to take a much
harder look at the values of the dominant culture. Otherwise, as the BBC News article points out, 3.1 times more African American kids ages 5-14 will
continue to drown. The statistic on Hispanic/Latino and well as white nonswimming kids is also too high, but the statistics on African American
nonswimming kids and drowning kids are an abomination.
[edit on 9/7/2010 by Uphill]